SINGLE REVIEW: This Love by Kendra Black

kendra black

http://www.kendrablackmusic.com/

Kendra Black is a singer, songwriter and producer hailing from New York City. Originally with a background in professional ballet, she eventually shifted her focus towards music, performing in the U.S., France, Monte-Carlo, Italy, Egypt and the Caribbean. She trained with teachers from the Music Conservatory of Cannes and The Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory, then perfected her vocal training with Justin Stoney (director of New York Vocal Coaching), A&R Meghan Cress at Voice Academy NYC and Ilana Martin from Vocal Workouts singing school. Her 2017 album The Edge featured rapper Snoop Dogg on the single Rude.

This track, This Love, is taken from her 2019 album The Fire. The song is in the pop/EDM genre and begins with a brief intro before Kendra’s distinctive vocals enter in a high register. Her voice has a crystalline quality and has been extremely well recorded and produced, giving it a slick commercial sheen. On the verse, the musical backing is sparse with percussion entering on the first refrain of the very catchy chorus. From here, a standard EDM riser and drum roll builds us up to a full ‘four to the floor’ beat.

Along with this pounding kick, we hear an equally memorable synth melody which continues into the second verse. The way the track builds and breaks down is cleverly done so that there is a sense of crescendo at key moments. Lyrically, it’s about a relationship that has a special, unique quality that is simultaneously romantic and physical: “There’s something about this love that feels so magical…..when I get around I feel like an animal.….”. The track’s momentum and energy continues to the very end.

Overall, this is a classy piece of pop/EDM as good as anything you’ll hear in the uppermost reaches of the charts. Kendra Black has a perfect voice for pop, and is ideally suited to the material in this instance. The song is well crafted and equally well suited to commercial radio and the dancefloor, which is a difficult trick to pull off. This means it doubles its potential of finding success and that’s exactly what I expect to happen to Kendra Black in 2019.

 

VERDICT = 8.5 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Get Cha Hustle Up by Thuggizzle

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Thuggizzle is a freestyle rapper and hip-hop artist hailing from San Antonio, Texas. From an early age he has had the ability to come up with clever and inventive rhymes on the spot, known also as rhyming “off the dome”. His childhood was traumatic with himself and his three sisters in and out of foster care which led to getting in trouble.

He realized his gift for music could be his way out of his dire situation and put his experiences of street life into his lyrics. He cites Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic as a major influence and Thuggizzle has actually performed with one of the main contributors to that album, Snoop Dogg.

This track, Get Cha Hustle Up, is a great showcase for his rapping skills. Based around an infectious, skittish hip-hop beat and augmented by rhythmic, descending orchestral synth lines the vocals enter with the super catchy title refrain. You can hear the influence of Tupac, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Eminem in certain aspects of his lyrical delivery but it soon becomes clear that Thuggizzle has a unique style of his own.

The verses show his ability for fast and fluent rapping, showing real dexterity in his use of rhythm and meter. The rapid-fire, busy style of the verses is perfectly contrasted with the simplicity of the title refrain in the chorus. He shows his self belief with lines like, “When I start just flipping that beat, man, I start on any instrumental…slow it down, Thug, what’s up, are you ahead of your prime? Well I’m just speeding past my watch cos I’m ahead of this time….”.

Overall, this is an incredibly catchy and assured single by a freestyle rapper who has developed a strong artistic persona and an entertaining personal style. He has taken the experiences and adversity of his childhood and turned it into the fuel of his creative success. He should go on to become an inspirational figure to aspiring rappers who come from a similar background. Thuggizzle is a hip-hop artist who truly deserves the hype.

 

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

 

Alex Faulkner

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Julie Project by 27 $AVAGE

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27 $AVAGE a.k.a. Hefe Heetroc (amongst other aliases) is a rapper/producer hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up in Rochester, NY and moved to California before ending up in Albuquerque. Picking up the guitar at 19, he moved into the hip hop genre at 27, collaborating with the emcee Loose Logic. His music has been featured on numerous blogs including ThisIs50 and his single ‘Space Energy’ has been aired on WRIU FM by Dj Padrino (of the Coke Boys).

His musical style has been described as a fusion of hip-hop, glitch-hop, and vaporwave, though for this album/mixtape The Julie Project he describes the music as ‘Alien Emo Trap’. Rather than a collection of separate tracks, it is mostly variations and remixes of the track Ocean Front with different material interspersed towards the end.

His rapping delivery is smooth and so laid back it’s almost vertical, imagine Snoop Dogg after a night on the chronic. He has a natural facility for rhythm and rhyme, with an inventive use of language like the best rappers. The album starts with lead single The Awakening, built around a simple but infectious vocal hook: “Now we’re rollin’ on the ocean front….”. The production is lo-fi but imaginative and edgy; it suits the overall vibe of the music, a meld of trap beats and bursts of synth riffs.

The Reckoning is, in ways, an extension of the first track, this one with an Eminem-esque lyrical flow and similar use of dark realism: “Life’s meaning is in its making, pain, blood, death, that’s for the taking…”. The track The Comeback is another variation on the theme, this one containing some impressive verbal gymnastics and rapid fire delivery.

Following this is a series of remixes and reinterpretations, my personal favourite being Ocean Front Part II, with it’s moody, throbbing bass and weirdly haunting synths. Eighth track It’s A Lie is excellent, built around a pounding kick and verbal fireworks, with the rhymes coming thick and fast. The last remix, Unstoppable, features a blistering breakbeat which helps make it one of the most effective tracks and a fine way to finish.

Overall, this is an intriguing project from 27 $AVAGE, who has melded various styles into a unique fusion that sets him apart from the generic hip hop crowd. He has developed his own style which is versatile, and deserves a strong fanbase. I’d be interested to see if he can develop this approach further and deliver a full album in the more conventional sense of entirely different tracks. This could be the case with his upcoming album Empire Of The Forgotten. Definitely one to watch for the future.

VERDICT: 7.4/10

Alex Faulkner

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UPCOMING RELEASES:

EMPIRE OF THE FORGOTTEN – RELEASE DATE= TBA

1Mockup

 

MISLED VICTORY MIXTAPE – RELEASE DATE = TBA

2Mockup

 

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Some Mo’ by Valenti review

Valenti  (Dennis Webb Jr.)http://www.valentifunk.com/

Valenti “Funk” Thomas is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Irving. After becoming proficient at several instruments, he joined funk/reggae group the Effinays in 2010, where he shared the stage with Snoop Dogg (Lion), Grammy-award winning Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma and country music artist Jack Ingram. While in this group, Valenti composed the music for the eleven songs of his forthcoming self-titled album, from which this track, Some Mo’, is taken.

Starting with a short intro consisting of alternating bars of 3/4 and 5/4, it then launches into an up tempo funk track with an instantly memorable synth riff and a taut, funky bassline. We then hear the soulful female vocals of LaLa Johnson over choppy high-end guitar and rhythmic piano for the succinct verse, which leads straight to the chorus. The hook is extremely simple and catchy (“I like it, I love it, and I want some mo’…”), the music lifted by some unpredictable chord changes that showcase Valenti’s musicality and inventiveness.

Lyrically, it’s an ode to good times and people’s sexual tastes: “Some like ’em black, some like ’em white, some like to take their time and try them all for the night…’. Funk has long been the domain of amorous subject matter, and this song upholds that tradition nicely! After the second chorus there is a middle section with some gorgeous stacked vocal harmonies, before a synth solo and another blast through the chorus takes us to the end.

Overall, with superb musicianship and songwriting craft, plus a stellar vocal performance from LaLa Johnson, it all adds up a blistering piece of funk that Stevie Wonder would approve of. Like Stevie, Valenti is a versatile musician/songwriter and I’m looking forward to hearing his debut album, which should help to establish him as a major talent.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.6 out of 10